CIVIL CONFISCATION

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CIVIL CONFISCATION

On 13 July 2022, the High Anti-Corruption Court handed down a judgment in case No. 991/366/22 brought by the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office against the judge of a district court and his relative. The prosecutor sought to recover from the defendants the value of assets of questionable origin – i.e, assets whose value exceeds the amount of revenues declared by the owner.

Overview:

  • The judge and his family resided in the apartment, which was formally owned by his relative (mother-in-law).
  • The relative’s declared income was not even close enough to afford to purchase the apartment. Moreover, the judge’s declared income was insufficient as well.
  • The prosecutor managed to convince the court that the relative was just a formal owner of the apartment. From the very moment of the purchase, the apartment was meant to belong to the judge and his family. Moreover, the source of funds used for the purchase remained without a plausible explanation.
  • The court relied on the evidence proving that the judge was the actual owner of the apartment, in particular:
    • data on the use of personal access cards used to enter the housing estate’s territory;
    • data on cash withdrawal from the ATMs located near the housing estate by the judge;
    • Internet service agreement and relevant bills, naming the judge as a customer;
    • data from the city surveillance system regularly capturing the judge’s car near the housing estate.
  • As a result, the court declared that the apartment is an asset of questionable origin, and ruled to seize its value (to the extent not covered by legitimate sources of funds) to the state budget.

Takeaways:

  • This is the first case where the court applied the civil confiscation to the assets held by a third party being just a formal owner of a property.
  • In contrast to criminal cases, civil confiscation cases do not require the prosecutor to prove his allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Here the standard of proof is lower – the court just weights the parties’ evidence and arguments on balance of probabilities.  
  • The prosecutor’s case was based on the analysis of various indirect evidence characterising the defendants’ lifestyle. For example, the court considered a lease agreement for two parking lots, while the judge’s relative did not have a car.

[Full text of the judgment can be found at: https://reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/105252483].

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